Home / Funny / Viral / Lottery Winner Dedicates $100K Wins To Building Classrooms In Mali


Have you ever played the Lotto? What would you do with the money you win?  For a North Carolina resident, the answer was pretty simple. For Souleymane Sana, a 39-year-old  North Carolina dance teacher who emigrated from Mali, a war-torn country in West Africa, there is no better way in spending his winnings by supporting the education of our youth.

With the hopes of helping children from his home country, he bought a lottery ticket. Luckily for Sana luck was on his side and he won $100,000. 

“This was my dream,” Sana said after he won. The winning scratch-off card was issued by the North Carolina Education Lottery, which raises $2.5 million a day on average for education. “That was one of the main reasons I bought that scratch ticket was to be able to keep helping them.”

Traditions are critical to the fabric of a community, as they define who people are and where they come from. Kono Gnagi's mission is  not only to preserve traditional dances and music, but also to preserve them for future generations, using the culture itself to create opportunities for local West African artists and to benefit communities in Mali.

Sana has a deep interest in giving back to the community and future generations. "I love dancing and I want to teach the children in Mali to love it too," he admits. "When you talk about culture and  about education, the two go hand in hand."

As explained on Kono Gnagi's website, West African folk music and folk dance is an important tradition in African societies. However, due to rapid globalisation the tradition has seen less interest among the younger generations. "This is of great concern, as the disappearance of traditional music and dances means the loss of the ancient dialogue between  dancer and drummer. along with community identity and historical significance."

Sana has created traditional Malian dance workshops in the United States with the hopes of keeping the traditions alive. When he has the opportunity to travel to his hometown of Bamako, he teaches classes to internally displaced children, who then perform at festivals celebrating their heritage. However, as can be seen from the photos, these group sessions take place outdoors, mostly on dirt floors. That is why it has long been his dream to support education and create more space for it in his home country. "Some of the money goes to  building a dance centre there," says Sana.

 “I’m going to keep doing my best to help build more classrooms for the children in Mali,” he vows. “That is the thing that makes me really happy.”

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